I generally tell myself that I don’t miss riding during winter. The saddle doesn’t warm up and even its creaking sounds cold. It’s hard to ride in Sorrels and snow pants. Mittens make it difficult to adjust your stiffened reins. But then Jeni sent me this photo of her and her Warmblood, Phillipe, as they enjoyed a ride together on a cold, snowy day, and suddenly, I missed the cold air deep in my lungs, my horse’s tracks through new snow. This photo is contemplative and introspective and quiet and everything I miss about riding in winter. When I look at this photo, I don’t see Jeni thinking of the typical cold-weather riding dilemmas. Instead, I feel her peace, her happiness at being able to ride out and to see the land in an atypical manner, and I’m happy for her.
Phillipe’s Warmblood heritage means that along with his giant heart he has a rather giant body. Finding tack that fits him is a bit of a stretch (and suddenly, that play on words works so very well here), especially considering that Jeni had to use the very last notch on her girth, but it fit. Her initial feedback is that trotting is so much more comfortable when you can use a saddle. I must say that I agree with her wholeheartedly on this front.
I’m a huge proponent of quiet, restorative time, of meditation in its many forms. I think Jeni and Phillipe’s snowy rides are just that. “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy,” said Anton Chekhov. The blanket of snow just added a different, quieter layer of happiness to Jeni’s afternoon with Phillipe.
And finally, here is Phillipe, eating dinner at sunset. He is such a lovely dappled grey, and he earned his supper after his winter ride. Well done, Phillipe, well done.
Happy Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!